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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 18:11

Regional Approach- Municipal Solid Waste Management

Written by  Dr Amiya Kumar Sahu
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The Regional Landfill Concept

As per the conventional approach to waste treatment, Regionalization refers to the bundling the waste disposal needs of several towns or cities and tackling the problem they share by creating one regional facility.


The region could encompass a large metropolitan area that includes several contiguous municipalities. Alternatively, a cluster of small towns could share a common disposal facility

Need for Regionalization

Small cities / towns requiring landfills sites are facing severe problem in identification of land and in many cases possession is also becoming very difficult. Creating small facilities; for all small Municipal Body – cities and towns below 300,000 population is not viable in short as well as long time period.

a. This is on account of

  • Disproportionate financial investment needed for the facility; they also do not have enough resources to operate and maintain a landfill.
  • High rate of labour requirement per Tonne of waste
  • No adequate land for the landfill development operations and maintenance; Use of large portion of land for disposal of waste is not possible for small Municipal Bodies in relation to provision of other services.
  • Not in my backyard situation; A landfill will need to be constructed near to city/town which again leads to public objection.

b. More importantly, does not show a private agency willingness towards small landfill development due to financial viability and poor health of municipal finances.

c. Regionalization minimizes the scope of public objections, facilitates ease of disposal as this site can be constructed at a distance from city/town.

d. The regionalized landfill construction can be managed professionally in a cost effective manner.

e. The burden of cost of onetime items on participating Municipal Bodies will be shared and the total tipping fees to be paid will be only to the extent of waste sent to the landfill.

f. The site can be awarded to Private Operator who will be willing to handle a large landfill site.

Financial benefit of regional disposal

  • Reduction in the fixed costs (for example, lining, equipment, human resources land and overhead) per unit of waste because of the greater amount of waste and the allocation of costs among several municipal bodies
  • Cost saving because of sharing of overhead and maintenance cost among participating municipality bodies.
  • Sharing of professional management
  • Improved bargaining power to buy better equipment and system at lower costs.

Technical benefits of regionalization

  • The municipality has greater access to technical resources and professional expertise.
  • It can use large and sophisticated equipment (for example, Compactors)
  • Large landfills allow waste to be stacked to greater heights –over 30 meters, compared to the common practices of 3 to 5 meter. Greater height also corresponds to greater depth of landfilling which implies a sustainable increase in available air space and, hence waste disposal capacity per acre of land which leads to lower capital cost per ton of waste

dis01A regional facility can be located at a considerable distance from the municipalities, which helps overcome constraints on land availability. Additional transport costs can be substantially offset by the cost saving in disposal and treatment.

  • A large landfill facility allows for proper planning and development of the site, with provision of an adequate greenbelt and other amenities that makes the facility less offensive to the surrounding population. Over a period of time this improvement would help public opposition to location of landfill facilities


Environmental and social benefit

  • Safeguarding the public health

The health risks associated with illegal dumping are significant. Areas used for open dumping may be easily accessible to people, especially children, who are vulnerable to the physical (protruding nails or sharp edges) and chemical (harmful fluids or dust) hazards posed by wastes. Rodents, insects, and other vermin attracted to open dump sites may also pose health risks. Dump sites with scrap tires provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can multiply 100 times faster than normal in the warm stagnant water standing in scrap tire causing several illnesses.

  • Reduction in Environmental pollution

Runoff from open dump sites containing chemicals may contaminate wells and surface water used as sources of drinking water which will be reduced in sanitary landfill. Open dumping can also impact proper drainage of runoff, making areas more susceptible to flooding when wastes block ravines, creeks, culverts, and drainage basins.

Reduce the potential pollution contamination of water resources from leachate emissions

Reduce the dust generated from on-site vehicle movements, and placement of waste and materials and reduce emission of greenhouse gases.

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